Jake Ahlgren ‘21 News Reporter
Humans have used almost every medium for artistic expression, the most popular forms being painting, drawing, sculpture, music, film, and much more. In most art, we think about the works that have a space separate from the world; however, the category of street art includes all these forms of art and is immersed in our everyday world. These artists for the most part stay anonymous, even though some of their art can be seen by many people everyday. That work of graffiti you see on the side of the highway might be seen by thousands by the end of the day. Yet, these street artists do not possess the same image as those artists whose work is found in museums. This difference creates an edge to street art.
Street artists relate to their audience more than most professionals. Each piece or performance is crafted for everyday people who happen to be passing by. This means these pieces of art are more of a staple in local communities. For example, I will always remember going into the city in Baltimore and seeing street art everywhere. On the drive there, I would see intricate spray-painted text on the sides of roads and on the surfaces of trains that ran through the city. On the sides of buildings there were so many murals that were special to the communities they were in. My favorite was the word “love” spelled out in hand signs with a bright yellow background. Also, walking around later in the night there was always the same saxophonist playing for whatever cash he could make outside of Camden Yards.
Many people living in urban areas remember and appreciate the same types of art, yet still never know the artists behind the work. There are certain famous street artists like Banksy or Invader who have much recognition and the materials to create, but many artists have to make their creations work on a limited budget. But lack of money and materials makes each artwork more impressive. For graffiti artists, spray paint being more convenient and cheaper than quality paint has created a whole separate style of art that covers surfaces that would otherwise be plain. And street performers have been finding unorthodox instruments such as trash cans and bins for percussion for years. Some will use only a speaker and dance to music for those passing by.
The presence of street art can make a strong statement itself because of certain ordinances limiting street performers or laws prohibiting graffiti art. Art, especially as an act of rebellion, is very capable of eliciting a passionate response from the viewer. Street art brings energy and life to cities and communities. Whether it’s a man playing the guitar on the sidewalk or vibrant block lettering on walls of an alley, these works of art are available all the time for anyone who wants to appreciate them. These seemingly small parts of our day bring energy and life to urban communities and the dull parts of our lives.